As we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation I am curious where the re-formation will go next. The one holy catholic Apostolic Church has never been quite “one” with it’s many divisions but we have been single minded and untied when it comes to Jesus. We love Jesus but it’s also Jesus that we can’t agree on. Was he a social activist or the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sin of the world and calls us to a deep spirituality that awaits his coming again and in the meantime evangelizes the world. One thing you can’t be when it comes to Jesus is neutral. He was either the Savior of humankind or a crazy prophet – a religious lunatic. He is a social activist but not just for the sake of being swayed by the ever changing cultural norms.
Martin Luther really wanted the Church to hear the Gospel clearly and each individual to have a relationship with the Christ. The Reformation was both deeply individualistic and a corporate shake-up empowering everyone to take their “call” seriously. Yet, in 500 years we still have vast church hierarchies and bureaucracies that span the globe but have at the same time lost the balance of the Law and Gospel. We have heard the “good news” without the personal responsibility and accountability to the law. Discipleship does not seem to cost anything. Christianity-lite goes with our beer and schedules. And if the Law is preached we may be accused of not being sensitive to people’s needs and emotions.
What is the cost of discipleship? Consider this: “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship)
It will cost us more in the next 500 years and I wonder whether people will be willing to pay the price. What are your thoughts?